#94 Syracuse Football 2015 Preview

Syracuse Orange

Overall Rank: #94
#13 ACC

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Syracuse endured a rough 2014 campaign. After beating Villanova in double overtime and Central Michigan to begin the year, the Orange lost nine of their next ten contests. The only other victory came against Wake Forest. The offense must be better this time around and the defense will likely be worse. In the end, another disappointing season awaits.

2014 Record: 3-9, 1-7
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Scott Shafer (10-15 at Syracuse, 10-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Lester
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Bullough

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Terrel Hunt, QB, 292 yards
Passing: Terrel Hunt, QB, 983 yards
Receiving: Steve Ishmael, WR, 415 yards
Tackles: Zaire Franklin, LB, 44
Sacks: Marqez Hodge, LB, 3.0; Ron Thompson, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: Antwan Cordy, S, 1; Julian Whigham, CB, 1

Other Key Returnees: QB AJ Long, QB Austin Wilson, WR Ben Lewis, P Riley Dixon, K Cole Murphy

Key Losses: RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, RB Adonis Ameen-Moore, WR Jarrod West, CB Brandon Reddish, LB Cameron Lynch, LB Dyshawn Davis, S Durell Eskridge, OL Sean Hickey

The Orange defense ranked sixth in the ACC and 26th in the nation in total defense in 2014. However, eight starters are gone and the defense will almost certainly take a step back. The front four will rely heavily on Ron Thompson, a senior defensive end who tallied 3.0 sacks as a junior. Junior linebacker Marqez Hodge will be the other experienced leader for the Orange. Sophomore Zaire Franklin could be in for a big year. As a reserve last season, Franklin tallied 44 tackles and he should step into the starting spot in the middle of the linebacker corps. The secondary too is decimated by departures. The only returning starter is Julian Whigham. He will man one of the corner spots and safety Rodney Williams is an interesting young prospect, but depth will almost certainly be a major issue.

Injuries derailed the Syracuse offense, but they were not very good anyway. Quarterback Terrel Hunt had a decent season before going down with an injury after five games. But in those five games he threw just one touchdown pass.  Hunts legs are what makes him dangerous. He rushed for six touchdowns in 2014 and nobody else on the team ran for more than one. The hope is senior back Devante McFarlane will provide some help on the ground after rushing for 169 yards last season. The ground game should be decent, but the air attack may not be. Steve Ishmael had a very productive conclusion to his freshman campaign and much of the hope of the passing game rests on the shoulders of the young wide receiver.

The Bottom Line:
This is a case where the offense should be better and the defense should be worse. But the results on the field will pretty much be the same. The good news for Syracuse is the schedule. They start with four home games and the first three are all very winnable, against Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan. The Orange then host LSU before traveling to South Florida. Road wins will not be easy to come by, but South Florida is a road game Syracuse can win. That could mean the Orange will have four wins after five games. Even if that does happen, win five will be tough to come by until Senior Day against Boston College.

Projected Bowl: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 145.8 (90th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 184.1 (103, 11)
Total Offense: 329.9 (113, 13)
Scoring Offense: 17.1 (118, 13)
Rushing Defense: 139.3 (31, 6)
Pass Defense: 209.9 (38, 9)
Total Defense: 349.2 (26, 6)
Scoring Defense: 24.3 (37, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (69, 10)
Sacks: 2.25 (52, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (56, 8)


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